Consistency and stability are two desirable characteristics in just about every context. So why then, is it that those same two qualities are what cause the days to blend together to the point where the highlight of my day (or week as the case may be) is trying the food court’s newest addition: Moe’s Southwest Grill? The answer is quite simple: the ugly child of consistency and stability is monotony. Now, I know this isn’t always the case, and I’m not suggesting everything stable in life is bound by the same fate of becoming predictable and boring, but as far as the workweek is concerned, avenues of pleasure seem to be limited and anything that sets limits on my pleasure level terrifies me.
After two months of a strictly scripted daily routine, I began noticing that my days all rolled into each other, creating a blurry montage of working and sleeping with the occasional drink thrown in between. It was at this point I embarked on a quest to find the spice of life. Naturally, the first place I turned to is food. Now, instead of a bagged lunch every day, I familiarized myself with all the local eateries and began creating a mental dossier of all of DC’s finest foodtrucks’ wares and locations (Pi on Wheels blesses me with its presence on Thursday for example). Ok, so now I have something to look forward to at lunchtime; too bad it costs me an extra $30 each week. Which begs the question: is there anything I can do for fun that won’t wreak havoc on my budget? I’ve tried expanding my tastes in music, from Disney classics to Avicii megamixes; that gets old much quicker than you’d think. I’ve tried mixing up my morning workouts; which only seems to add a layer of confusion and anxiety to the start of the day. I’ve even taken the chemical route: changing my state of mind via 5 Hour Energy and a copious amount of Starbucks, which as drugs tend to do, yielded unpredictable if not dangerous results.
Is the monotony of the daily grind inevitable? I keep thinking there is some magic way to instill excitement into my daily schedule, and I keep circling back to the same conclusion: while work can be fun and satisfying at times, I’m not jumping out of bed each morning and cheerfully galloping to the metro station. But, I’ve learned that the combination of improving my routine while keeping an element of spontaneity gives me the best chance of preserving my sanity for the next 35 years. The best way to keep the days exciting is to make them unique, if not during working hours, then before or after them. Beware, evolution has shaped us humans into simple creatures; we tend to seek out familiarities because they’re safe. This is precisely what launches us into that self-perpetuating cycle of rinse-wash-repeat. When we find something we like, we do it more and more often and eventually it comes to be expected, it becomes part of the daily grind. But taking the small things I find exciting on occasion and making them daily habits is just the beginning. By changing my mentality to be open for change, and by finding and creating opportunities to try new and different routes throughout all aspects of my daily routine, I continually sculpt my workday into something almost exciting. In other words, the daily grind is a fluid concept eager to be bent to my will.
Four short months in the professional world has taught me that while the day-to-day may not be the most exciting, there are always little ways to make it better. Start small: treat yourself to an Egg McMuffin or Peppermint Mocha every once in a while, just be sure to throw in a degree of unpredictability to keep yourself honest. Make decisions on the fly. Don’t get caught up in the whole “this is how I do things, why change?” mindset. By all means, learn to appreciate the little things each workday brings instead of taking them for granted. You simply have to accept work for what it is and usually isn’t. I personally have no problem with the daily grind, but somewhere along the line I was misled into thinking the step from college to a real job is just a small drop-off in lifestyle. Nevertheless, it is the collective daily grinds of society that keeps the city bustling and the world running. After all, I would rather have a consistent and stable yet unexciting job than an inconsistent and unstable job. It’s what puts food on the table and a roof over my head.